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August 31, 2015

Yesterday started out great. My 18 month old woke me up at around 6:10, and even though I had only gotten about 4.5 hours of sleep, I actually wasn’t at all tired. I got little-man situated, made myself some coffee, and decided to bake banana muffins for breakfast. While he was playing and the muffins were baking, I worked on invoice sheets for a bit. 

My husband and daughter both got up right around the time the muffins were done baking, and we all ate breakfast together as a family. Shortly thereafter we went for a 2 mile family run, came back, and then quickly got ready and left for church. 

Fresh muffins. The promise of future payment. Great Workout. Inspiring Mass. I felt fantastic yesterday, like my body, mind, and soul were being taken care of, and I was in a great mood. 

Then I made the decision to stop at Food Lion on our way home from church. 

Before walking into the store, I knew my budget would be about $25 and I had a list of the basic items I needed: bananas, eggs, milk, etc. On the way into the store, I noticed that cereal was on sale for $1.74. That’s a great deal, especially when it’s one of the few items your 18 month old will actually eat for breakfast.

Anyway, I walked down the cereal aisle, found the shelf with the advertised cereal with big red arrows exclaiming “GREAT VALUE” “ON SALE” etc. and picked up a box off of the clearly marked shelf. I grab my other few items, wait in line, pay, and head out to the car, at which point I noticed that the cashier hadn’t rung up the cereal box as on sale.

My receipt listed it for $2.99 instead of $1.74. So I went back in the store and asked the same cashier why it hadn’t rung up as on sale. Her reply was that only the 12 oz boxes were on sale. I had bought the 9 oz box. I said, “Well, the store clearly has this box labeled as on sale.” To which her response was, “Someone must have just stuck that box there.” To which I replied again, “No, really. It is very clearly marked on that shelf that all of this size box is on sale.”

Long story short, I left the store very angry, with absolutely no help from the cashier who very clearly didn’t care at all that I had just paid $1.25 more, for 3 fewer ounces of cereal than the on sale box. 

I was fuming, steaming mad when I got home. I was putting groceries away with much more force than necessary, all while snapping at my family. I realized how crazy I was being and wondered how I let myself get so angry over a box of cereal. 

Instead of punishing my family for something that was clearly not their fault, I tried to use that negative energy for something productive. I finished my invoices, and then we went for a walk down to the park for some fresh air and to let the kiddos play for a bit before dinner and bedtime. 

As much as I really want to blame the store, because someone clearly didn’t properly label the sale items,  I should have double-checked the bar-code before putting the item in my cart. I really shouldn’t have gotten so upset over $1.25. I was about to let a fantastic day get ruined over something as trivial as 5 quarters.

So today, with just an ounce of bitterness,  I will sit and enjoy a box of my not on sale cereal at the crack of dawn, with my sweet 18 month who I love to pieces. I will be grateful that I have the money to put food on our table and in our children’s bellies, and I will never let $1.25 almost ruin my day again. 

I learned a valuable life lesson yesterday: don’t let savings, or a lack there of, decidedly ruin an otherwise great day. It’s just not worth it. I choose to be grateful and learn from my mistakes instead. 

Have you ever let something as trivial as $1.25 ruin your day? 



August 26, 2015

Preparing for the day that our kids head off on their own is a process that starts from the moment they’re in our arms for the first time. We all want our kids to be happy, healthy, well-rounded, and capable when they step out into the world, knowledgeable about basic life skills. 

My husband and I want to be good stewards of the time we have with our children. We won’t always be here to help them, so we want to use every moment possible now to teach them necessary life skills to help them in the future. This is a list of the 5 basic life skills I want my kids to know before leaving home.

1. Baking

Baking may not seem like an essential life skill to some, but it’s one that is invaluable to me. Most of my childhood memories revolve around the kitchen in some form or another, as I was usually baking something with my mom or Grammy.

Baking is about more than creating memories and having something delicious to eat. Baking also teaches patience, precision, units of measurement, and chemistry. 

2. Home Cooking

Cooking is a life skill that everyone should know. My children will not leave home without knowing how to cook. I want them to be able to transform a pile of random ingredients into a meal. I want them to be so comfortable in the kitchen that they know how to cook without a recipe. Cooking at home saves money, and it nourishes your family, since you aren’t constantly eating foods heavy with preservatives. 

3. Sewing

When I was 5 years old, my mom taught me how to hand stitch. When I turned 8, my sister and I went to sewing classes and learned to read patterns for making clothes. Twenty years later, my clothes making skills are pretty rusty, but I still know my way around a sewing machine, and I still know how to hand stitch. My mother in law wants to teach me how to quilt, and I would love to learn that skill as well. 

Knowing how to sew has allowed me to save money by mending clothes that are torn, so that I can keep using them. In college I was able to help friends when they needed to mend a garment. Now, I don’t have to hire out to a seamstress when my husband’s uniforms need new patches etc.

Sewing may seem like an archaic skill, but I want my kids to be able to create new things and fix their existing clothes. Knowing basic sewing skills can save you time, money, and frustration.

4. Gardening/preserving

Teach your children to garden, and they will never know hunger. Gardening is a life skill that I wish I had learned earlier in life. I started my first garden in 2011, and I will never go back to not having a place to grow my own food.

At our financial worst as a family, we would have gone hungry if it weren’t for the produce from our garden. Starting plants from seeds costs next to nothing, and the produce from our current three planting beds provide a great deal of food for both the summer and the winter (when I have enough to preserve).

I want my kids to always have the joy of knowing how and when to plant different varieties of food. I want them to have the skill of self-sufficiency. Teaching my children how to grow and preserve their own food is my way insurance policy against the hunger of my grandchildren.

5. Home maintenance

I grew up in a home where we never called a “professional” for any of our home repair needs. During the day my dad works as a computer software manager for a government contractor, but he knows carpentry, auto mechanic skills, masonry, electric, and plumbing. My dad was raised in a Mennonite community, and he learned enough skills as a child, in all sectors of home repair, that he never had to call out for service as an adult.

My dad taught me the basics of home repair and maintenance, and I am lucky to have married a man with similar skill sets. Between the two of us, we very rarely call out for professional help. Knowing how to DIY has saved us thousands of dollars.

Raising Capable Kids 

Basic home repair and home building skills, auto-mechanics, and home economics will help our kids know how to handle any situation that life presents to them. We want both our son and daughter to learn from their grandparents and parents the life skills they need to be able to take on any project. I don’t want them beholden to anyone else. Teaching our kids basic life skills will help them transform into capable, independent adults who can take the world by storm. 

What life skills are you teaching your children as they grow into adulthood? What knowledge would you wish for your children to take with them as they step out on their own?